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Concern raised over children with complex health needs

Pressure on ICU beds could lead to children with complex health needs not getting one.

Concern raised over children with complex health needs

Áine McManus.

A County Derry mother says parents of children with complex health needs are ‘terrified’ at the prospect of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed shortages during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Angela McManus’ daughter Áine suffers from several brain conditions and had a hemispherectomy five years ago in an effort to reduce seizures she was suffering as a result.

“She wouldn’t be able to fight a chest infection very well,” Angela told the County Derry Post.

“The thought is if her temperature rises that high, you’ll need an ICU bed, and there will be none.

“She wouldn’t be able to fight a chest infection. The consensus is that children don’t get coronavirus, but I don’t think anyone is reporting accurate figures on that.”

The Dungiven native says the family has always taken steps to safeguard Áine’s health, but with the onset of Covid-19, these have had to be increased.

She said: “She was in the hospital last week and their advice, although she still wasn’t eating or drinking a lot, was to get her home.

“Aine’s older sister Brogan works in Antrim Hospital, so she’s actually moved out as well because we can’t have anything carried home.

“Rossa, my husband, is an electrician working in Altnagelvin at the minute and he took it upon himself to move out and live in the caravan parked outside.

“He’s chatting to Aine through the window, but she’s confused because no one is coming into the house to hug or kiss her.”

Like in many areas, Angela says the community have rallied around to provide support and Áine’s school, Rossmar School in Limavady, have been very engaged.

She said: “Loads of people have offered to bring supplies and people are reaching out who maybe didn’t realise just how vulnerable Aine is.

“The school have sent home her homework pack and are keeping in touch. Her classroom assistants have been in touch to see how she is.

Angela criticised the government response to the crisis and says it has resulted in people not taking the threat of coronavirus seriously enough.

“People were misguided by the government from the start because they were saying it would be alright if the young get it,” she said.

“But what is wrong with people? Do they not have vulnerable people at home that they care about?

“It’s so reckless and unfortunately for our NHS, they are going to end up paying the price for people being so stupid.”

Áine is unaware of the virus and is feeling okay, but her Angela says that parents of children with complex health needs are fearful.

She said: “Áine thinks it’s an extended weekend. Her sister has set up a wee Instagram page, I think she has 500-odd followers.

“She’s grand, we’re hopeful we’re not going to get it because of the measures we are taking.

“What terrifies me is that they’re saying if they get sick, parents won’t be allowed in. Áine can’t communicate, so the thought that I wouldn’t be with her terrifies me.”

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